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Romney Calls For "New Generation" Beyond Biden And Trump, Republican Candidate Chris Christie Joins CNN This Morning, Soon: Judge To Hear Motions In Powell, Chesebro Case, Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 14, 2023 - 08:30   ET



CHRIS CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Guys got a big family and -- that he's genuinely close to. Not like some politicians pretend to be close to their families. He actually is. So I don't think he wants to be, you know, commuting to Washington when he's 80.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: That sounded like a lot more than that to be fair. I mean, it sounded like a lack of hope that he could make a lot of change, and seven and a half more years in the Senate. And I asked him, because in many respects, and he talked about this to the Washington Post, like, you are representative of a lot of what he represents, and he feels hopeless, yet you are still charging full steam ahead. We'll try to --

CHRISTIE: I don't think you hopeless though, Poppy. I think what he is, is realistic about what you can do is one of hundred.

HARLOW: OK, let's call it realistic.


HARLOW: Is he being more realistic than you are?

CHRISTIE: No. Because he's being realistic about what you can do is one of hundred. I'm being realistic about what you do is one of one. And if you're the president, United States --

HARLOW: You can't do a lot without some of those 100.

CHRISTIE: Well, but you have the ability to persuade. And when your president, you have a lot of advantages to persuade. And plus, I'm an incredibly persuasive guys. So, you know, we'll be able to do a lot. And -- and I think Mitt, I think his call for a new generation of leaders, when you have two guys as front runners who are going to be a combined 160 years old, probably makes sense, just on the numbers. You know, these guys, both of them, if they -- if they got elected, would be beyond the tables of life expectancy in their term as President. I think that probably makes no sense for us as a country.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST: Would you want his endorsement?

CHRISTIE: I'll take anybody's endorsement honestly, in our Republican Party, you know, somebody wants to endorse me and come on and help, I'd be happy to have people sell. But in the end, what I learned, Phil, from 2016, was that endorsements don't matter nearly as much as they used to.


CHRISTIE: And in the end, what you want more than anything else is people who are helping you do the tough work of a presidential campaign, on fundraising, on policy and those kinds of things. And look, Mitt Romney is one of the brightest minds in our party, one of the most experienced in our party. So I would always say I have taken advice from Mitt in the years that I was governor, and since and I'd be happy to take any advice he's willing to give.

MATTINGLY: I want to ask you about the race of the people you're running against right now. The front runner, clear front runners, Donald Trump, we've talked about him quite often, but he said something that I think slots into the whole like, is he being literal? Or is he being figurative? Is he just joking around. Why don't you take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: But remember, it's a -- it's a Democrat, charging his opponent, nobody's ever seen anything like it. That means that if I win, and somebody wants to run against me, I call my attorney General, I say, listen, indict him. Well, he hasn't done anything wrong, that we know him -- I don't know, indict him on income tax evasion, you'll figure it out.


MATTINGLY: OK. I've covered a lot of Trump rallies in person, I understand the stick and I understand kind of the presentation and the context here. But what's your read on that?

CHRISTIE Well, I think it's both. Right, so no one can run against --

MATTINGLY: I think he might be serious about that.

CHRISTIE: Of course, he is about -- but not about the context. So no one can run against him again. If he wins --


CHRISTIE: -- He's only got one term left, and he -- no one will be able to run against him again. But do I think Donald Trump would try to use the Department of Justice and a compliant Attorney General to punish his political enemies? Sure, I do. So I think both things are true. I think he was kidding about the context of what he was talking about in terms of, you know, someone's running against and he's trying to make a point with what he's alleging Joe Biden is doing.

But you know, Donald Trump. Would Donald Trump use a compliant the Attorney General to go after his political enemies? Of course he would. And -- and we saw that he tried to use the Justice Department to overturn the election. And wanted to put Jeffrey Clark in charge with so that he would. So I don't think, given what his context was forget about what he said in that rally, his context was in the aftermath of the election. It's absolutely not only plausible, but likely.

HARLOW: Now one of the most interesting parts of what Romney said to me that hasn't gotten as much attention as when he basically said, the Trump indictments and those actions that are alleged, are old news. And the American people don't care that much about old news. They care about new news.

And he talked about President Biden and Hunter Biden while also saying, by the way, he doesn't think there's evidence here to even launch this impeachment inquiry. But what do you think of that? Because so much of what you're running on is what Trump is alleged to have done and how he did act.

CHRISTIE: Well, see the difference is I think he's right about the indictments. I think people have processed that and said, either they agree, or they don't agree with those. To me, what I'm talking about is the conduct that underlies them. Because that conduct is a preview of what he would be like if he were the nominee again, and the President again. So I do think that's new according to Mitt's analysis.

What he will do next will absolutely be consistent at 78 years old with what he's done before. And the -- let's just contrast, Poppy, where he was in '16 versus where he is now. In 2016 he stood on the convention stage and said I am your voice today. Today he says, I am your retribution. Those are two very different people and I would argue someone who is now just out for himself purely and not have any element where he's out for the American people.

And that's something new and something that people should really be considering when they're deciding who you want our nominee to be. Plus the fact that I just don't believe he can win. And that's a huge problem for the Republican Party.


MATTINGLY: Are you ever going to get a shot at him directly? I know, you've said, you're going to follow them around the country if he doesn't show up at the next one or two debates. Why wait? Why aren't you, I know he doesn't travel a ton right now. But well-traveled everywhere.

CHRISTIE: There's a problem is that he hasn't been anywhere. This is -- this is a guy who has made fun of Joe Biden's basement strategy. You know, he's staying in his little house in Bedminster and going nowhere. Hiding behind the, his lawyers and hiding behind his political advisors. You see, oh --

MATTINGLY: His lawyers are saying don't say anything, his political advisors saying don't go anywhere.

CHRISTIE: That's right. I absolutely think that's what --

MATTINGLY: Because they're scared?

CHRISTIE: Of course, because they're scared of him. They're scared of what he'll say, and how much deeper he will dig his hole, that he's dug it already from a legal perspective. So I think they're concerned about that. Now, he's Donald Trump. And the reason why I do think to answer your question, I will get a shot at him is because he won't listen to his lawyers, ultimately.

He has a very short term ability to be compliant with anybody's advice. And he'll listen for a little while when one of us will say something on a debate stage or someplace else that he'll want to respond to. And he'll knee jerk react in response. So yes, I think maybe the third or the fourth debate will finally see him. Because I also think that voters will start to worry a bit about it in terms of not showing up and defending his policies.

And remember, the state polls are significantly different in some of those early States than the national polls are. And those are the ones that he has to keep an eye on.

HARLOW: Governor, I do want to ask you about some policy issues. And I want to ask you about abortion. We talked about it last time you were on with us and where you stand now. Because it was your position in 2015, that you thought in your words, I quote, "highly reasonable proposal" was, quote," one that brings Americans together was called the pain capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and it would protect unborn children beginning at 20 weeks."

That was 2015 People can evolve. But you're now running for president. And after Roe vs. Wade was overturned, this is a critical issue for people in both parties. Do you still think a 20 week federal ban on abortion is a quote highly reasonable proposal?

CHRISTIE: It could be. But we're going to have to see I think now, given that roe is overturned, I want the States to decide. I've been arguing as a lawyer for years that Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided, and that the state should decide. Now we're in the midst of this great democratic experiment, state by state by state people either through referenda, or through their legislatures and their governors are being able to decide what -- what goes on their States.

So my -- to be clear, and then you could follow up to be clear, I want all of the 50 States to be able to weigh in if they want to, and what their state laws should be. And then let's see if it's a consensus. Maybe the consensus is that 20, maybe it said 15, maybe it's a 12. But we have to see because look at what's happening. In Oklahoma, for instance, the law is no abortion of any kind, except for life of the mother is threatened.

In my State of New Jersey, you can have an abortion up to the ninth month. So let's look at where it is.

HARLOW: That is what I want to know. It is the law.

CHRISTIES: But I'm just about the law. And I this I started with some of the other day like whether it's rare or not, the legislature and the governor in my state is decided it should be permissible.

HARLOW: Can I follow up with you?


HARLOW: Because you said yes, it could be highly reasonable to have a 20 week ban. At this point, the votes aren't there, as Nikki Haley pointed out in a different stage to even get that to a president's desk. But should it come to your desk, hypothetically, as a president -- Well, you laugh. This is so critical for people to know --

CHRISTIE: But hypothetically --

HARLOW: Excuse me.

CHRISTIE: Go ahead.

HARLOW: It's very important for people to know, it sounds like you would sign that legislation.

CHRISTIE: What I would do is I would sign a bill that represented a consensus of the 50 States. So if there was a consensus of the 50 States, and part of the way you would determine that is could you get 60 votes in the Senate for it. So if the word consensus, I absolutely would consider signing that. But the issue is, can you develop a consensus that one would be developed by those 50 States and two would be adopted by 60 United States senators, which almost certainly --

HARLOW: It's a key.

CHRISTIE: Right. It would almost certainly have to be a bipartisan effort. I don't see either party getting to 60 anytime soon. And so that's what it would have to be. And I think using the States, as the Founders intended as the laboratory for that is the right thing to do. That's what I'm doing.

HARLOW: I appreciate your clarity on that.

MATTINGLY: Can I just ask you -- I know you have to go. But the idea of, isn't that kind of a -- I understand the legislative process quite well and the consensus process quite well. But doesn't that allow you to not have to take a firm and specific position on like we'll just see what the States do? Because I'm not sure yet what I've done --


CHRISTIE: I'm not sure I've said before, that I'm pro-life and that I believe in exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother. And that's the way I've covered for eight years as governor of New Jersey campaign that way, that's my personal view of it. But now you're asking me, what would you do as president? And right now, a president can't do anything. And so I'm trying to answer the question you asked. I didn't -- what my personal feeling is, and where that came from.

Someday I'll come back, you can ask me about that. And I'm more than happy to answer because I've been answering it for my entire public life in in a very blue state. That is very pro-choice. And I had a different opinion. So when easy to give that answer, but it's the truth. But I think what people need to know is what will you do as president, if you're running for president? I want the 50 States to go for it.

I don't want the federal government to jump the gun here. Let's let the 50 States make their decisions. Let's look at what the consensus is. And I'd be open to signing something if it represented consensus.

HARLOW: Thank you. I wish I had a lot more time.

CHRISTIE: Appreciate it. Happy to. Thank you for having me.

MATTINGLY: Appreciate it.

HARLOW: Appreciate it.

MATTINGLY: Key inflation report was just released by the Labor Department. We're going to break down those numbers, coming up next.



HARLOW: This just in; the Labor Department out with new inflation numbers, and they rose to 1.6 percent from 1.3 percent a year ago, month over month up a little less than 1 percent. CNN's Data Correspondent Harry Enten is here now. OK, what does this actually mean?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes. So I mean, look, I think one very interesting thing that's going on in terms of the inflation, the 12 month change is currently we're in better shape now at 1.6 percent. than we were a year ago, when year over year 2022 versus 2021, it was 8.7 percent. But one of the interesting puzzles that I've sort of been looking at is voters believe that inflation is heading in the wrong direction despite that first slide.

Voters believe -- Look at this. 74 percent of voters believe that inflation is heading in the wrong direction --

HARLOW: Can I just jump here -- because those numbers don't they strip out food and energy costs.

ENTEN: They do --

HARLOW: Exactly what people feel.

ENTEN: People do feel that. But here's another angle that I think is important to note, as we look at these one year figures were like these are the authoritative figures, right, one year. But take a look here at versus four years prior. Look at 2023 versus 2019. We're up the prices are up 20 percent. They're up 20 percent. Compare that to 2019 versus 2015. It was up just 7.5 percent. So people aren't just comparing to a year ago, they're comparing to pre Pandemic and the pre Pandemic prices are through -- compared to the pre Pandemic, their prices are through the roof.

HARLOW: Totally.

ENTEN: And here's another little nugget that I think we should keep an eye on, gas prices, right. Because this is one of the best ways or one of the big ways that people sort of view inflation. Look where we are now. Price for a gallon of gas $3.86. That's up from where we were in June at $3.57 from the march average at $3.42. So gas prices going up. And that is part of the reason why people think that inflation is going in the wrong direction.

MATTINGLY: Didn't you say energy is the -- you're talking about the energy?

HARLOW: Yes. I was talking about what people feel at home, energy and crude. Exactly.

ENTEN: Economy.

HARLOW: No, actually former Bloomberg genius over here.

ENTEN: I remember I've watched some of those clips.


MATTINGLY: Don't look for them on YouTube. Appreciate it. Thank you very much. And more news just in; the Kremlin confirming the Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted an invitation to return the favor of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit North Korea separately. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will also visit North Korea in October Putin and Kim had a meeting that lasted nearly five hours yesterday. The two leaders exchanged firearms as gifts according to the Kremlin and Putin presented him with a spacesuit glove that had ventured into space.

The Kremlin spokesperson would not say if Military and technical cooperation were discussed during the talks.

HARLOW: Watch that space for what comes of it, critical. Meantime the next hearing of the Georgia elections aversion case is a few hours away. This time the judge will address a series of legal requests from two of the 19 defendants. We'll tell you what you need to know ahead.



MATTINGLY: In about one hour Georgia judge overseeing the election interference case involving former President Trump and 18 codefendants plans to hold a second hearing and involves defendants Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro. Both former Trump lawyers will stand trial together next month after requesting a speedy trial. The judge rejected their request, split their cases. CNN's Zachary Cohen joins us now from Washington, D.C. Zach, what are we watching today for the second hearing. ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY & JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, Phil, The road to trial for a criminal defendant usually includes trying to get a better look at what built the case against you. And that's what these motions that are going to be discussed today from Powell and Chesebro are really all about. Look, they're really trying to get a better look at the evidence against them. And you know, look at who put the case together. They want to do things like talk to the grand jurors that brought the indictment.

They wanted unsealed witness interview transcripts from those who talked to the special grand jury that recommended charges and they want to know the names of the unindicted coconspirators referenced in the indictment itself. And so these are all part of the legal maneuvering that we typically see as defendants are ready to go to trial. And as you mentioned, Powell and Chesebro are slated now to go to trial on October 23.

But one overarching question here today. And then something we're going to be looking for is whether or not the judge does address what this means for the other 17 codefendants in this case, including Trump, what the timing of their potential trial might look like. It's likely prosecutors are going to try to get some clarity around that today from the judge, as he addresses these motions from Powell and Chesebro. But a lot of moving pieces, and really a lot of questions still in the air here, especially as far as a trial, potential trial for Donald Trump in Georgia.

MATTINGLY: Yes, every one of these hearings helps put some of those pieces back together or together for the first time. Zach Cohen, you've been helping us do all of that. Thank you so much.

HARLOW: All right now for your morning moment. Environmentalists, Lewis Pugh, you saw him on this program not long ago. Well, he became the first person to swim the entire 315 mile length of the Hudson River. Unassisted. It took him 30 days to swim from the Adirondack's all the way to Battery Park right here in Manhattan. It was all to promote the need for clean rivers and celebrating the Hudson rivers progress. Pugh emerged from the water to crowds of supporters in a tweet announcing his incredible accomplishment. He writes rivers are the arteries of our planet. Everything we hold dear relies on their protection. We spoke to him last month right before he literally jumped in.


LEWIS PUGH, SWAM 315-MILE LENGTH OF HUDSON RIVER IN 30 DAYS: It's absolutely essential that we really focus on the health of our planet now. This is the defining issue of our generations. It's a swim it's a call to people around the world because this is a one river where I can speak to people all around the world because the river ends in Manhattan right next to the United Nations Headquarters.


HARLOW: Pugh also runs his own environmental organization. He is hoping to fully protect 30 percent of the world's oceans by 2030. MATTINGLY: That's a very important topic. But I'm bummed he did -- he did that because I was totally going to do it.


MATTINGLY: And now I don't feel like -- it's not even worth it anymore. So --

HARLOW: I'm waiting for that one, Phil.

MATTINGLY: So, we are going to continue to watch it. Just over 15 hours now until the potential auto strike between the UAW and the big three, watching that every step of the way. We're going to see you tomorrow. But Meantime, CNN News Central starts right after this break.